Finance and Legal

Corporatise or perish was the mantra of the session on finance and legal.

Saurabh Srivastava, president, Venture Capitalist Association of India, explained the role of Venture Capital (VC) in the entertainment industry. He specified that VCs are always interested in taking risks, in fact that is why they are called venture capitalists. Media and entertainment as attractive as the IT sector, the only problem being that it is not organised and professionally run which adds to the risk involved.

Talking on the role of VCs, Srivastava specify that they are not passive investor. Apart from the investment they also add value in terms of providing management expertise, etc.

Talking on project finance in the entertainment industry, particularly with respect to film financing, Richard Soames, chairman, Film Finances, specified three thing as very important - script, budget and schedule. He said that scheduling should be done before budgeting. He stressed on the need to have the contracts in place with key people like lead artists, director and producer which was many a time lacking in the Indian film industry. The project financier normally monitors the development of the project at various stages and.

Taking the point of need for contracts from Soames, Jeremy Saunders, Cenrisk Group, categorically stated that protection at various levels were available. One has to indemnify the services of all these leading artists as their name itself helps in bringing in the finance. Moreover, one has to see to it that the artists are not working on many projects at the same time. Insurance was another important aspect.

Shardul Shroff, managing partner, Amarchand & Mangaldas - touched upon the different aspects of finance by saying that the tainted money in the Industry has to be stopped. "In fact last year the government has taken an excellent step by giving the film industry a status of industry', he said. He stated the need for availability of credible and clear finance in Industry as well as corporatisation of Film production houses.

Ashok Wadhwa, managing partner, Ambit Corporate Finance Ltd, hinted that in future the entertainment industry can go for debt-equity financing. But to get an equity partner will be a difficult proposition. "There is a price attached to equity, which is much higher in the high risk business," Wadhwa said. But equity partners also share risk as well as losses. Again the concern was lack of professionalism in the industry.

He was bullish about the future of the film industry thoough. "In the coming four to five years large international studios will come and produce films. Like the I-T industry, even this industry has large potential in India and globally," he said.

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